tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC December 8, 2013 4:00am-4:31am PST
s you what you are looking for to live a more natural life. in a convenient two bar pack. this is nature valley. nature at its most delicious. the mind of a leader. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews up in boston. so let me start with this. president obama continues his offense of getting great help from a 7% jobless rate. the best numbers since the historic financial crisis he inherited back in 2009. and if there's a single powerful insight i got from our time yesterday is that those of us looking at president obama and the man himself are looking at the same reality. we see the right wing attack and obstructing him relentlessly. he certainly sees it.
we see the gall of economic justice as the big stakes of our time. and so does the president. and so does pope francis in rome. and this big goal, greater economic justice, is what's driving him. letting him weather from the right. he wants to help those most in need. but he also said this man who wanted to be a transformational president, great historic change, generally comes when one controls the government. times like the early new deal, the great society, and even the early months of the reagan presidency. is that what he's calling for? a big upset victory? next year's congressional elections. let's find out. robert gibbs is a political analyst and former press secretary under president obama. and david corn is an msnbc political analyst and washington bureau chief at mother jones. robert, you know better about him than most people. you've worked with him in tight situations. i hope you got to see our program last night. we had a huge audience of 1.3
million. >> i did. >> i mean, it's a very big audience of people who tuned in just to hear the president. even on a night when so many hearts and minds were focused on the lives of nelson mandela. they took some time out to watch our program with the president. he said at that time when i asked him how do you do big deals and he said history says you only get a big program through, something really important, when one party controls the government. the house, the senate, and the presidency. does that mean to you he's still holding out hopes he can pull a big upset in the sixth year of his presidency next november? >> well, i was certainly struck by the answer in which he was reminding those college students that a lot of them that might vote in a presidential year don't tend to vote in a non-presidential year. but sometimes who's the speaker of the house is a job that's just as important as any other. so i think it's clearly something that's on his mind. and it was something he wanted to be on the minds of those students yesterday.
>> can the brilliant get out the vote operation that blew everybody's socks off last november, can you replicate that in a midterm without his name technically on a ballot? >> yeah, and certainly that's always been quite difficult. i will say in the recent election in the governor's race in virginia, you did see turnout that didn't appreciably drop in terms of the percentage of the electorate that was made up by certain segments of that population that you would normally see in a non-presidential election. so i definitely think there is some hope for that and there's certainly some evidence for that. it's clear that that is going to have to happen in order to see change in a government that might well be determined because of redistricting and the real estate of the political environment as much as anything else. >> yeah. david corn, he was very careful robert gibbs, to say the people that don't necessarily show up meaning minorities and young people. there he was talking to a young people's crowd to project to a
larger number of people using that audience. did you hear -- because the only implication could be. either he's given up on doing big things, which i'm not willing to admit he has, or he still hopes to get a governing majority in both houses where he's able to get things done. like immigration, like a lot of things in implementing fully obama care? >> to me there's an interesting thing here of what comes between those two points. if you look at the speech he gave on economic justice wednesday, clearly the president has big ideas, has a big agenda. he's not done with that. these are things he's discussed from the very beginning since he began running in 2007. to me what was interesting in watching your interview yesterday was when he talked about republicans. it's not he's completely resigned to the obstructionism, that they've presented, but i didn't get a sense of a lot of fight. he talked about being persistent. but i think if he wants to rally
those segments of the electorate that robert just talked about, he has to be concrete in what he's asking people to rally behind. take some of these grand ideas that he talked about on wednesday that he's talked about before whether it's raising the minimum wage, expanding head start to get investment going. whatever he talked about, he has more credibility now with these new employment numbers and making it concrete. sending bills to congress and saying this is what we're going to fight for to give people next year motivation to go to the polls to support them even if he's not on the ballot. >> you know, today's poll numbers remind me of the old argument if you want to live like a republican, vote like a democrat. because the stock market is double what it was he inherited in the spring of '09. >> don't i remember. >> i know you do. president obama's continuing the offensive against his enemies today. yesterday we witnessed yet another escalation in the ongoing war against his enemies and the obstructionist wing of the republican party. during the interview with me, he
didn't pull any punches when it came to the issue of right wing gridlock in washington, d.c. let's listen to the president lay it out just the way we see it here and you see it at home, he sees it the same way from the white house. >> i think you can look at it and you can say that the big challenge we've got is we've got a faction of the republican party that sees compromise as a dirty word. that has moved so far to the right that it would be difficult for a ronald reagan to win the nomination for the republican party at this point. i actually think there are a bunch of republicans who want to get stuff done. they've got to be embarrassed. >> well, he said he's reminding people there -- in fact, we can remind them what he's talking about here. this is the reality of obstructionism for the president. he didn't lay it on, let's do it here. house republicans have torpedoed immigration legislation that passed with a super majority over in the senate. so the house is holding it up. it's the same with a recent piece of legislation on
workplace discrimination that sailed through the senate. this stops you from being prejudiced in the workplace. boehner refuses even to bring it to a vote there. they derailed in the house multiple attempts to put together a budget, the simplest budget tasks. shown zero interest in doing anything constructive on health care. in fact, it's hard to keep count on this baby. they've voted 45 times to kill what the president produced without producing an alternative of their own. robert, in addition to all the things he wants to do, you know, there's the stuff he just can't seem to get done from the past. including getting judgeships approved. you know what? i got the feeling we're going to get to it today in a few minutes, but it looks like the republicans think their cash cow is obama care. just keep milking that baby for all it's got over and over again. the problems with the rollout. >> i think the list you had is pretty instructive. and my guess is that's what you'll see him spend the bulk of
the time on certainly in the next few months. i think immigration reform is something, obviously, there's a political pinch there for republicans. they can't go into the next election in 2014 and certainly into 2016 without having made some progress on that. if they don't do that, we know one thing. that the republican obstruction that you spoke of and the president spoke of, they'll never grow to being a national governing party. they'll be a regional congressional party based primarily in the south. they'll never be a national governing party. and that's certainly a big difference. >> thank you robert gibbs, thank you david corn. getting personal. this is a rare moment we had yesterday. the president opened up as howard fineman said it best. never before have we heard a president talk about being president, what it feels like you are. by the way, he got very personal for a guy who can be a bit distant as we know. as we remember nelson mandela.
we've got my interview of him on the eve of his victory it in south africa. one of my great victories and emotional times of my life. from comedy central, known as the clown carve the right, it keeps on rolling. one congressman decided to delay the nuclear program would be to drop a small american nuclear bomb on iran. what a smart man. you think they want an atom bomb after we do that? yes, you drop an atom bomb on iran, they'll spend the history of the country making sure they've got something to shoot back. let it be rick santorum to compare nelson mandela fight against apartheid to his personal fight against obama care. hmm. like snoopy fighting the red dragon. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] imagine this cute blob is metamucil.
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first of all, i would like to say you and the students here from au got a once in a life time opportunity to see in person a president talking about what it's like to be president while he's actually president. the last 15 minutes of this interview were extraordinary. i've never seen anything like it where a president kind of unburdened himself to you about why he's in the ball game. and i thought he made a very compelling case for his own decency. whatever the screwups were managerially and they were real. >> welcome back to "hardball." in the second part of my interview with the president of the united states yesterday, a tempered and reflective barack obama talked to me about what it's like for him to be president and how it's changed him in five years in office. howard fineman is a political analyst and jonathan capehart is an msnbc contributor.
of course, a "washington post" opinion writer. howard, i was really taken with your perception there. i actually missed it because i was so busy trying to prepare myself to follow up. but you hit something in your years of experience, presidents don't talk about what it's like to be me, if you will. >> no, they don't. and they don't do it in public. i mean, i've covered a lot of presidents, chris, and i've gotten to know them pretty upclose. and they are sometimes self-reflective. but usually in private and usually only momentarily. they don't let their guard down very much. but i think in this case in that interview yesterday which i still think was extraordinary, the president was kind of thinking out loud and talking out loud about his situation. let's face it, his poll ratings are down, his number one program is controversial. he's got three years left in a second term he's not sure what he's going to do with. and i think sometimes he wonders how he's going to muster the motivation to muscle through, as he puts it.
that's a phrase he uses. but here he was saying, look, as long as i'm in touch with the people, as long as i still can imagine in my mind, as long as i can still remember average folks i'm fighting for, i'll be okay. and as long as i remember now -- he said i understand now that things don't happen easily. that i'm just part of the long sweep of history and that i've got to push the boulder up the hill one inch at a time and there'll be somebody coming after me. a cynic might say he's just trying to extend responsibility to all of history and not just to himself. i don't take that interpretation. i think you saw a guy trying to remember why he became president in the first place after he's been in washington for five years and how he's going to handle and motivate himself for the next three years. which i thought was utterly fascinating. and i think pretty convincing. >> yeah. instead of saying some big name historians have said nice things about me which keeps me going,
he's saying -- i'm serious. i met somebody the other day whose kid's life i saved. and you know, whether john meacham thinks i'm doing okay. i'm serious. jonathan, take a look at this. the president reflected on his job and how he's talking about he said it's important to remember who he's working for. let's listen. >> if you feel those folks in your gut every single day, that will get you through the setbacks and the difficulties. and the frustrations and the criticisms that are inherent in the office. and i think the interesting thing about having been president for five years is it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier about what you as an
individual can do. you recognize that you're just part of a sweep of history. and your job really is to push the boulder up the hill a little bit before somebody else pushes it up a little further and the task never stops of perfecting our union. >> you know, jonathan, i was just thinking isn't he the guy that went like this when somebody criticized him? dust off my shoulder like it doesn't mean anything to me? somehow i remember that and now he's basically saying it hurts. the criticism has hurt me. it's a burden to carry. >> yeah. i agree with everything that howard said in terms of his assessment of the president and what he had to say in your interview. the thing that i took away from it in addition to that was that what the president was telling you and telling the students there and telling the american people is, i know what's going on. i know my poll numbers are horrendous. i know that you're upset with what's happening with the healthcare.gov and the economy and a whole lot of other things.
i know that you see that i can't get anything done because of republicans on capitol hill. i know all these things. i'm not running away from it. i'm not trying to pretend that it's not there. i know and it has an impact on how i am as president. on how i am able to govern as president. so i get that. but the other thing i took away from that part of the interview, chris, is that it took me back to that guy who spoke to the democratic convention in boston in 2004. a very reflective person at the time. someone who had a vision of where he wanted to take the country. and that person is still there. that person, if you go back and read his 2004 keynote speech at the democratic convention, a shiver will go down your spine because you will realize barack obama then the candidate for senate was basically laying out the road map for what he would do as president.
>> well, let's take a look. the personal and professional assault this president has faced cannot be understated. still president obama spoke yesterday about the virtues of public service itself. and this is true not just of presidents but a lot of other people in lesser offices, if you will, will tell you this. what's best about the job is not the money or the fame although it is for some, but for many it's for helping people. and i mean that. here he is. >> it continues to be a way to serve that i think can be noble. it's hard. it can be frustrating. you got to have a thick skin. and i know it's tempting to say why would i want to get in the mud like that and get slapped around and subjected to all kinds of scrutiny, but i tell you the satisfaction you get
when you've passed a law or you've taken an executive action and somebody comes up to you and says, you know what? my kid's alive because you passed that health care bill, because he was uninsured. he got insurance, got a checkup, and we caught a tumor in time. or you see somebody and they say, you know, you helped me save my house. and i can't tell you what that means. it's pretty hard to get greater satisfaction than that. >> you know, we had two parts to the interview yesterday and then we came back for what we thought would be just a few minutes. in order to be honest with you to keep him going, i asked him a question i was hoping would perk him up and get him into his soul. i said as a roman catholic it's hard not to think of the link between him and what he's been saying on economic justice and what the holy father the pope in rome has been saying about moral responsibility ever since he became pope.
fascinating response here. and the president was quick on the uptake. here he is. >> i think pope francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice. >> howard, i'll be back to tell me how you puts together the mack vel yan with the francis can here. it's going to be a challenge. there are two parts to that speech. i'm going to win this thing next year and the other part was, i am a nice person. thank you very much, howard. and great insight last night. i'll keep playing that tape. thank you jonathan. a look at my 1994 interview with nelson mandela. yes, i'm old. on the eve of his presidential election in 1994. this is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ [ ding! ] losing your chex mix too easily? time to deploy the boring-potato chip decoy bag. then no one will want to steal the deliciousness.
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back to "hardball." and now for the sideshow. nelson mandela's death yesterday has caused this country to pause and reflect on the legacy of a man whose imprisonment helped turn world opinion of south african apartheid. in this country, that process started with a measure that passed with such support that it was able to override president reagan's veto. it was the comprehensive anti apartheid act which imposed hard economic sanctions on south africa and also called for the release of political prisoner nelson mandela. bob dole voted for those sanctions, so did mitch mcconnell, and newt gingrich. but of those who put themselves on the wrong side of history was wyoming congressman and future vice president dick cheney. he voted against the measure repeatedly that year. and stuck to that position. in 2000 he said he had no regrets opposing the measure. last night, fox television bill o'reilly and rick santorum took a weirdly different
approach in assessing nelson mandela's legacy. >> i spent some time in south africa. he was a communist, this man. >> yeah. >> he was a communist. all right? but he was a great man. what he did for his people was stunning. the sacrifices that he made. he could have repudiated and got out of that prison. he wouldn't do it. he was a great man. but he was a communist. >> you're right. i mean, what he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice. i would make the argument we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people's lives. and obama care is front and center in that. >> what o'reilly said there is 180 from what others said as the first black president in south africa, mandela leaned too much toward corporate leaders in encouraging them to invest and stay invested in south africa.
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